Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, This is Somewhere

About a month ago Grace Potter and the Nocturnals played a local club.  I’d ordered “This is Somewhere” but it hadn’t arrived yet and I wasn’t familar with the group.  The gig was gp and the nocturnalsat an awkward time so we decided not to go.  A few days later the CD arrived and we put it on.  “This is Somewhere” opens with “Ah Mary” and when it crashed through the speakers and came close to burning our house down I looked at Laura, my wife, and said “We made a big mistake.”  “Ah Mary” is a roaring rock tune with a driving chorus and brilliant lyrics that Potter sings with power, attitude and serious balls.  Your first thought is that it’s uncommon for a woman to sing such an open love song to another woman but then the words start to register. “She’s the beat of my heart / She’s the shot of a gun / She’ll be the end of me and maybe everyone”   You realize it’s a love/hate song and you wonder just who the hell this Mary is anyway.  When the band tells you in the final raging crescendo it’s both a surprise and a mind blower.  “Ah Mary” is the best single song I’ve heard in a long time.

The next track, “Stop the Bus”, starts off like a dirty blues but then seques into a fairly standard issue anthemic rocker.  It’s not as good as “Ah Mary” but neither is any other rock song I’ve heard in months.  With the third track “Apologies” the ballads start, the CD begins to slide downhill, and the true nature of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals becomes apparent.  They open like a rock band with maybe a hint of a country influence but it soon turns out it’s the other way around.  They sound like a country-oriented band that is playing around with some straight out rock.  For my tastes the rock works but I could do without the country twang and my problem with “This is Somewhere” is that there’s a lot more twang than bang.  Long before the CD ended I was just as happy we hadn’t made the gig.

Laura is enjoying “This is Somewhere” the more we play it.  I’m having exactly the opposite reaction but I expect more people will agree with Laura on this one.  The band is tight, they have some serious songwriting chops and Potter is a powerful front woman.  If they weren’t doing this hee-haw shit I’d like them a lot more.  But I’m thinking that’s more my problem than anything else which merely means someone with different tastes may have an entirely different take on this CD.  In any case, that first tune is so good I’d forgive them just about anything just to have the chance to rock out to it one more time.  “Ah Mary”, indeed.

Picking the best song of the decade is a dopey thing to do but if someone were to hold a gun to my head and say “Choose or die”, this is the one I’d pick – “Ah, Mary”

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03/09/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , ,

5 Comments »

  1. I think you might have made a mistake missing that show (of course, I’m clearly biased). More bang than twang? Check it out. Most live shows are much more bang.

    http://www.thisissomewhere.com/2008/02/14/put-your-head-down-grace-potter-and-the-nocturnals/

    http://www.thisissomewhere.com/2008/02/29/if-i-was-a-blade-id-shave-you-smooth/

    Comment by kcortez | 03/09/2008 | Reply

  2. hmmmmm – so disagree with you – on nearly all accounts. Having followed, closely, the band for about 4+ years, I believe that they offer a variety to their tunes/jams that many bands do not offer – and, a live show WILL rock your socks off.
    Have found that some male CD-listeners want more rock – yet the first two CD-s offered blues and soul!? Perhaps, in years to come, the quality/craft of the music/musicians recorded music will become classic.
    Funny, I liked some of the twang!
    me

    Comment by Chere | 03/09/2008 | Reply

  3. You made a HUGE mistake missing GP&TN live. Do yourself a favor and watch the vids suggested by kcortez, you’ll fall in love with this band. Another I’d heartily recommend is the live vid of “Stop the Bus” at Red Rocks which is available on youtube; it totally blows the cd version away.

    Comment by Mr Columbus | 03/10/2008 | Reply

  4. […] not the best person to provide a balanced review of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “This Is Somewhere” because I don’t care for the country twang style that infuses much of their music.  […]

    Pingback by Review: Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding « Tuned In To Music | 03/11/2008 | Reply

  5. […] band’s 2007 album This is Somewhere opened with the spectacular track “Ah, Mary”.  On the one hand, I don’t think […]

    Pingback by Review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals « Tuned In To Music | 06/27/2010 | Reply


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